Drive two hours north of Phoenix and you'll arrive in the beautiful town of Prescott, Arizona; known for its cowboy history, live music and natural surroundings. Fun fact– they have the largest stand of ponderosa pine forests in the country 🌲. Oh, and one more thing to add to that list? Yup, you guessed it, Gridiron Football.
Meet Ryan Hart. He's our local Gridiron Commissioner for Prescott, Arizona (also known as the "Quad City" area). And he and his wife, Amy, and their two kids, Rylee and Nash, can't wait to introduce the great tradition of Gridiron Football to this "true west" town.
Football’s been a big part of your life, including playing in a semi pro league. What made you and your wife want your kids to experience this sport for themselves?
Football just has a feel of life-blood for this family. Playing throughout my younger years instilled a passion that came from my Dad’s love of the game. He threw me passes in the yard and I get to do the same for my kids. When they realized they could play organized football there was no holding them back! Amy and I have been avid NFL fans all our lives, and we are well aware of the risks of tackle football; but we feel so good seeing our kids play and grow with flag football as a fun way to play and enjoy the game we all love.
What's the best moment you've seen or experienced on the football field?
About a year ago we had a last-drive one-point win against a boys team after my daughter’s girls team was down at half. I was the offensive coordinator and decided to go for two to win the game at the end and she found our new receiver in the corner of the endzone for the conversion! The ball was high and away from the defender and it was a great catch! She trusted the new girl in her first game to make that play. We all celebrated…and to this day, she is good friends with the girls on that team!
What makes Gridiron flag football better than any other sport?
Gridiron flag football is equal parts competitive, fun, and life skills. We have made so many great friends playing flag football! The lessons learned as a team and as a player are invaluable in this fast paced and exciting game!
You’ve returned to your childhood hometown after living throughout Arizona and even the Pacific Northwest. What makes this town – this community – so special?
Prescott, Arizona is a special place, no doubt. The area has so much to offer to families. Coming back makes me feel like a kid again. And giving my family some of the same experiences I had, in the same places is really meaningful. From the beautiful trees and granite rock landscapes, to the many lakes and preserved natural areas, to the historic buildings, fields, schools, and backroads, the feel in this area of a hometown with character is overwhelming. I’m happy to see the Prescott “Quad Cities” thriving and growing as an economic powerhouse in central Arizona; and we are privileged to be a part of it.
What’s your “why” – of becoming a commissioner for the Prescott area?
When we decided to move to Prescott, we looked for sports. There just were not a lot of options for youth sports outside of the basic spring and fall activities. We’d had so much fun playing Gridiron flag football the prior five seasons that we knew we had to bring the opportunity to the kids of Prescott. To see how much fun this can be and make it available to kids that wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity is the reason for everything. We want to share all of what Gridiron has to offer with the families of the greater Prescott area and give the community a long-term boost through sports!
What’s one thing you hope the kids in your league take away each season?
I want kids to know that life is like sports. Whatever they learn, whatever they fight through, whatever they strive for, whatever they achieve; those lessons will serve them well in life. I want kids to know that it’s not all about personal gain, but about learning to embrace teammates and opponents alike to grow. A team-oriented attitude can serve you well in sports and in life.
Your daughter, Rylee, is a multi-sport athlete. But flag football is her favorite. What does she love about it, and what do you hope she and other girls joining your league take away each season?
I think she just loves getting out there and learning the game. She loves competing with her friends and mixing it up to see who they can beat! She works hard in practice and loves to improve. I asked Rylee herself- here’s what she said:
I love getting to be with my team, learning to co-operate and compete with other teams in the league, having fun, learning how to be a coachable athlete, playing new positions, being flexible and making sacrifices for the team, and of course the satisfaction of knowing that you played your hardest and that you improved from your last performance. I want the girls joining the new league to have all of these fun experiences!
You grew up playing drums and the guitar alongside your dad, a well-respected musician with credits including Whiskey Row and Nashville, Tennessee. So music is obviously in your blood. And you know we’re all about our Game Day music here at Gridiron. What are some must-haves on your Game Day playlist?Hard to choose just a few: here are some must-haves:
Who’s your favorite football player, past or present?
Jerry Rice. Hardest worker. Period.
If you could play for any football team, who would it be?
Michigan Wolverines. My Dad was born in Michigan and I love Jim Harbaugh. Special program with so much history.
Your team’s down by 7 with 10 seconds to go. What’s your go-to play?
Depends on how close we are to the goal line… but I’ll run a bunch flood to the side of the most aggressive corner; we tag it to send one receiver deep as the QB rolls out and see if we can get someone loose in the secondary.
What’s your favorite song to play on Game Day?
It’s a tie: The Champion - Carrie Underwood OR In the Air Tonight - Phil Collins
What's the best local spot in Prescott, the next time we're in town for Game Day?
Hands down - Bill’s Grill. Popular local spot! Close to home. Great food with gluten free options!